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“Women’s Education is the First Step Towards Women’s Empowerment” By: Trisha Gupta

When it comes down to it, education is truly the first step towards empowerment. Empowerment is defined as the power given to someone to do something and the process of controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights; and education creates a path in achieving all of this. Education opens the doors for so many opportunities, provides knowledge about the world, and creates a path for a better life. Which is why, in a world that favors men, women must claim what is theirs and level the playing field, starting with education.

Before we delve into why education for women is important, we must first understand the problem and why many women, particularly those in developing countries, do not receive an education at all. Currently, according to the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates, there are about 129 million girls around the world that do not have access to education and are not in school. 32 million of them are primary school age and the remaining 97 million are of secondary school age.

There are a multitude of reasons why these girls and women across the globe are denied an education, but it comes down to a few main reasons. One big reason is sexist beliefs. One of the largest obstacles in the way of girls’ education is sexism and gender bias. Many parents refuse to educate their daughters because they wrongly believe their daughters are more “useful” at home doing chores around the house and education is pointless for them. Another big obstacle in educating girls is financial constraints. Many uneducated girls come from poor families that cannot afford to send their daughters to school and pay the fees. So rather than going to school and learning, these girls are forced to work and support their families. However, oftentimes, it’s a mix of gender bias and financial hardship, leading to a situation in which parents prioritize their sons’ education over their daughters.While there are other reasons as to why girls are denied an education, such as conflict/war and natural disasters, these are two extremely prominent ones.

Educating girls and women is essential to not only empowering them and giving them better lives, but also to the world.

To begin with, educating girls breaks the poverty cycle. As we all know, education creates better job opportunities, which help improve financial situations. The World Bank found that women with secondary school education earn about twice as much as women with no education. Educated women are able to create a more financially stable life for themselves, as they are able to work higher wage jobs and even start businesses for themselves. Furthermore, UNESCO found that one year of primary school education can increase a girl’s wages later in life by 20%. This increase is especially important to girls that come from poorer families, because it gives them the ability to lift themselves out of poverty. Furthermore, educated women are much more likely to educate their children, which would break the intergenerational cycle of poverty in many families.

Along with this, educating girls leads to lower rates of childhood marriage, and this has a multitude of further benefits. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reports that when a girl in the developing world receives 7 years of education, she marries 4 years later. In a world where, in developing countries, 1 in 3 girls is married before the age of 18, this is an essential fact. Childhood marriage is not only immoral (and illegal), girls married as children are more likely to have children earlier. Early childbirth is often fatal for both the mother and child; the number one cause of death for girls 15-19 in the developing world is childbirth. Girls’ education can directly and indirectly help resolve this issue and save lives.

And last, but not least, educating girls has huge global benefits. Firstly, girls’ education creates economic growth and adds to the global economy. With millions of more educated girls, the Malala Fund reports that it could add $12 trillion USD to the global economy. Along with benefitting the global economy, educating girls also increases developing nations’ GDPs which is essential for helping their economies.

Another global benefit of educating girls is that it creates a world which better protects human rights and strives for equality. Women's education creates a world closer to achieving gender equality and places more emphasis on it, since women are more present and represented in politics and economic atmospheres. Educated women are able to have more leadership positions, and women in power fight for and take action towards achieving equality for themselves and other women. This translates into the next generation of kids being taught gender equality at an early age and young girls receiving the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Simply put, education not only empowers women but also creates a more equal world.

Women’s education has the potential to better the lives of not only millions of girls, but also greatly benefit the world as a whole. With education giving women the power to lift themselves out of poverty, prevent childhood marriage and its subsequent consequences, bring growth to the global economy, and create a world more focused on equality, it’s clear why education is truly the first step towards empowerment. Educating girls and women around the world is a goal that we must place at utmost importance for not only women themselves, but to end the myriad of global issues we face today.


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